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Better Ride Tip: Break Out of a Slump

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Editor’s Note: This is a continuing series of training tips provided by Gene Hamilton, founder of Better Ride mountain bike training clinics and camps. Ross Schnell is a former student and raves about the positive changes Gene made to his riding, and that dude’s a ripper. If he can help the pros, he can help you.

Ever get into a “slump” where you are not riding as confidently as normal?

I have spoken with and emailed a lot of clients who are in a “slump” and not riding up to their potential. Slumps can be really hard to break out of, but if you can identify the cause of the slump it is easier to reverse.

Often, slumps are a skills issue brought on by losing competence in the core skills. If you think this may be the cause of the slump, return to your drills and spend a little more time practicing the core skills.

If you are riding well but crashing in races or when losing focus, it’s usually a mental issue. In the mental case there are usually one of two things going on. The first issue is often a lack of focus or concentration. If you find yourself riding the tough sections well and crashing on the easy parts of the trail this lack of concentration is often the culprit. To control your focus create a pre-ride/pre-race routine that helps you put away your everyday life and focus on the ride.

The second mental cause of crashing is a confidence issue that can be cyclical (you are not riding confidently so you fall which further lowers your confidence and the cycle repeats). These are the toughest slumps to break, but it can be done.

To break this type of slump you need to rely on three things, a past history search, a new focus and a break in the pattern.  A past history search is simply remembering  how hard you have been training, reliving your successes and remembering how good a rider you really are.

Combine this with a new focus on what you want to do, not what you want to avoid. Often in a slump people will set goals like “just don’t crash”. This sets them up for failure by focusing on the negative…kind of like looking at that rock you don’t want to hit. Instead, set goals like “ride my best and rip all the corners.” To break the pattern use your new goal in your training and every time you rail a section, compliment yourself.  Telling yourself “that was more like it” or “I am ripping again.” or “I love riding bikes” should do the trick.

Most of all, remember to have fun!

Better Ride clinics and camps are available year ’round throughout the U.S. Click here to find one near you.

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Chris C
Chris C
13 years ago

I had a pretty bad fall at the beginning of May on a very technical trail. I think it took a bigger toll on my confidence then it did on my body. I’m still having some pain from that fall but for the most part I’m almost healed up. One thing I’ve taken to is changing what I ride. Instead of focusing on the gnar I’ve been focusing on strength training and skills. This week I’ve been hitting just the pump track on my BMX and leaving the MTB at home. It seems to be helping. I’m gaining some much needed confidence back and having fun on the bike again. The next time I ride that trail I’m going to attack it with some fresh skills!

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